Welcome to Lower Elementary Southeast
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”- Socrates
Welcome to our Southeast Lower Elementary Classroom! Our classroom community is comprised of children ages six through nine. These students have a wonderful curiosity, ability to imagine and interest in and aptitude for the abstract. Their tremendous sense of wonder guides their work, as they want to know the reason for things.
Additionally, the concept of justice and morality is born at this age, and they delight in collaborative learning. Together we form a supportive, lively, rich, community to learn and play in.
Nadine Elmgren, Lower Elementary Guide
B.A. Marylhurst College, Portland, OR, Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Northwest Montessori Education Center, Portland OR
AMS Montessori Elementary Certification, Ottawa, Canada
The Children's House experience (1988- present):
Young Children's Community Guide, Primary Classroom Guide, Teacher
January 17, 2019
Our classroom has settled into a nice groove, now that we’ve all adjusted to being back after winter break. We were all thrilled to see each other after our time off and I was amazed how many of the children came in looking different with missing teeth! It was exciting to have the students from Interlochen visit on our first day back and the TCH students were full of suggestions on what makes a good book. We are all looking forward to hearing the stories that they come up with when we visit this week.
We have loved reading all of the Caldecott contenders. We looked at around 20 books, and it is a real challenge to pick a favorite one, as there are so many great ones! Our class will vote for its favorite and be eager to hear the final winner when it is announced January 28th. We are still reading a Newberry contender, The Wild Robot Escapes, during our read aloud time. The 3rd year students are enjoying book club with DiAnn where they are exploring other Newberry books.
Swimming lessons are off to a great start. The children divided into groups on their first lesson and literally dove right in! Please help your child set up a calendar/system that they can check in the evening , so that they can see that they need to pack their swimming gear on Thursday evenings. Learning to be responsible and prepared is an additional opportunity here
December 13, 2018
The sun, or more accurately, the lack of it this time of year, has been a focal point for us. We have learned about how humans have welcomed the winter solstice for more than 5000 years. Additionally, we’ve been looking at the Sun’s movement and how it impacts the Earth’s temperatures, seasons, and time zones. Daily tracking of sunrise and sunset times on our graph is a tangible way to measure the changes.
We have been enjoying quiet, peaceful starts to our day listening to a solstice story by candlelight. These tales from many traditions, reflect the ancient and universal wonder of the winter solstice. We’ve decorated our room with greens, learned songs, and have written our own solstice stories and play. We will spend some time on our final day sharing our solstice stories, food, games and winter wishes.
The consistent themes that have rung true are the value of the connections that we have with nature and with each other, the always renewing cycles we are fortunate to be apart of and faith in the future. I wish you all the wonders of the season!
November 29, 2018
We have received a generous supply of new books from Horizon Book Day that we are all eager to read; thank you so very much! One of the books, The Wild Robot Returns, is a Newbery award contender, and our next read aloud book. We all loved The Wild Robot and and are looking forward to the sequel. The third year students have been invited to participate in a book club led by DiAnn Service to discuss the books they read from the Newbery list. We are reading the Caldecott contenders aloud over the next four weeks. The illustrations are gorgeous and it is fun to discuss the different techniques used and our preferences.
The third Great Lesson, The Story of the Coming of Human Beings, was told recently. This story opens the doors of history, giving the children perspective on all that came before the appearance of human beings. The children love hearing stories of all kinds. Many of the stories told emphasize the needs of people and all of the different ways that we have met our needs for survival. Sharing stories of people throughout time with your children is inspirational as they are ripe for hero worship at this age.
November 8, 2018
Thanks to each of you for joining me for conferences. I appreciate your insight and information. I continue to feel so fortunate to work with such a devoted and supportive parent community.
Jana told the children the story of the history of wool this week. In doing so, she set the stage for the handwork lessons they will be having. Some children will knit with needles, others will start with simple knitting looms or finger knitting. They love to practice their crafts during our read aloud time.
Jana and I recently attended an event at a knitting shop, where they were shearing angora goats. The farmer there promised to bring her goats when its haircut time in the spring. Jana will be showing the children about her drop spindle and we are hoping to have a guest present yarn dying. All of these opportunities give the children perspective and appreciation of what it takes to create clothing. We will look at the history of clothing as well. A favorite activity then is to look at the tags in what we are wearing and see how it has come from all over the globe. This can lead to many interesting conversations!
The children are wrapping up their second turns of meeting time with Kimberley Hetherington to work on their LEGO project. Many thanks to Kimberley for all of the time she is spending so that the children are able to be a part of this awesome experience.
October 25, 2018
Thank you all for making the effort to join us for Parent Visiting Day. One hundred percent of the students in our classroom had a parent join them! We are so fortunate to be a part of a community that supports their children with such strength and values education so deeply. I am eager to meet with each of you during our upcoming parent conferences.
The recent staff retreat, led by Jen Cort, inspired me to think of creating an equitable space for all children. Our Montessori setting has this structure in place already, so my task now is to give language to experiences and ask questions that led to discovery and awareness. The open, thoughtful and loving minds of this age are apparent. This shone through recently during our book discussion about the Indians of the Great Lakes. Social justice seems to be inherent!
We’ve begun another novel by Avi. The class is delighted to hear the tales of their favorite woodland characters again. I am delighted to see their love of listening and their appreciation of a good story! Reading aloud together at home is a wonderful close to the day for your family and further promotes the love of literature and creating a culture of reade
October 11, 2018
Thanks to Kimberly Hetherington, our class has the amazing opportunity to participate in FIRST(For Inspiration of Science and Technology) LEGO League Jr. This is non competitive, hands-on STEM experience, is something the children work on with Kim on Friday mornings until early December. Kimberley was able to secure a grant from UL to underwrite the costs for this program.
After winter break they students will be in teams of six, working on the challenge Mission Moon. This real world theme, how to live on the moon, exposes the students to engineering and programming skills. So that all students could participate, we decided to opt out of offering the travel portion of the experience and have our own class event where the teams will display their work to each other. Stay tuned for more information about viewing the final products. A final thank you to Linda Whaley, grandmother of Ty McGregor, for her generous donation to cover the additional kits so that each student could participate in the Team Challenge.
Now that the initial weeks of school have past, we’ve been zeroing back in on what the balance of Freedom and Responsibility looks like in a student as well as remembering our Class Creed. The children know what is important to them, and are working together to establish a classroom culture and community where they can feel good and are able to accomplish their best work. During our group and individual meeting times, I love listening to them as they problem solve and set goals to move forward. The development of morality, justice and accountability is such important work for them and our Montessori setting provides a setting to practice over and over again!
September 27, 2018
Our class has settled into a nice groove, now that routines are established and the newness has worn off. It is delightful to look around and see engaged students working on a variety of materials and inspiring each other with their work. I have had a chance to meet individually with each of your children, and they all report that they are off to a good start. I appreciate time with them to reflect on their needs and progress. It amazes me how self aware they are and willing to openly communicate.
We’ve had our second Great Lesson, the Coming of Life. The timeline has aroused all kinds of extensions, and is the springboard to introduce research to the first year students.
The students have enjoyed many recent special events. We had a sturgeon presentation from the biologist with the Grand Traverse Band who has been working diligently to prepare the tank for the fish that arrived this week. A representative from Meals on Wheels spoke with us about our opportunity to participate in their program. Committee meetings for Fall Festival have begun and preparations are underway. Of course we all loved seeing Steve’s dress rehearsal for Swing Shift as well as gathering for our class party!
September 13, 2018
Our class is off to a grand beginning! The first week of school we spent lots of time meeting so that we could cover a wide range of topics. We established routines, wrote our class creed, talked about our freedom and responsibilities and played games to learn each others names. The first step in writing our creed was to establish how we wanted to feel each day. Words like inspired, listened to, respected, challenged, productive , safe and happy emerged. We then took those words and decided how we would need to act so that we could feel like that. Our final document was signed by all, and is going to be hanging on the wall, as a touchstone to refer to throughout the year. Make sure you read it when you come to visit.
The Creation Story, first of five Great Lessons, was told last week. It is an engaging tale complete with props , that sparks the children’s imaginations and opens the door to the universe and its laws. Another favorite, that also arouses our imaginations is read aloud. Currently, we are reading Poppy and Ereth by Avi. It’s a wonderful story about a deer mouse and her forest adventures, that we are all loving.
What a pleasure it is to begin this new year with your children!